AN AUSTRALIAN HISTORY LESSON
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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WEATHER: Hot and sunny by day; cooler after dark.
Our first stop for the day was at the historical town of Barcaldine; once again the name is Scottish after a castle there!! All those early settlers were obviously homesick and nostalgic! And let me tell you that this part of outback Qld bears no resemblance to Scotland.
Founded in 1886. Population around 3500. Wool and beef production are the main industries and tourism is another economic spinner. We noticed that the town's main road was packed with parked caravans.
It is famous for "The Tree of Knowledge", a ghost gum that grew by the railway station for 180 years and was an iconic memorial to the Great Shearers strike in 1891 for better working conditions- supposedly one of the first "Union" towns in Australia.
Sadly someone poisoned the tree a few years ago, my guess a radical right winger!!, and now there is an attractive man made memorial using the tree's wood in its place.
The main street has 5 hotels all older than 100years! Interestingly, Australia's Great Artesian Basin is pumped up to supply pure naturally filtered water to the area and the water is clean and sweet. Apparently this water supply feeds the needs of many communities in this hot, dry outback area. And of course this is a resource we are diminishing!
As with all QLD country towns the streets are very wide and people here have made some effort to create a "garden city"
From here we take the Matilda Highway to the small town of Ilfracombe where we install ourselves at the caravan park, famous for its happy hour!
The town has a lot of history on show and we really appreciated the 20 minute film- A Rush For Grass- the grass being Mitchell grass which has sustained sheep and cattle since early settlement. The pub- Wellshot Hotel- opened in 1890 and has not undergone any refurbishment. Memorable!
We need to remember that sheep and wool made Australia a rich country back then!
Beside the railway line are a series of displays and museums depicting early life and equipment; there is even a house in town that housed a family in late 1800's.
All very interesting and well done to the people of Ilfracombe for encouraging tourists to stop and spend some money.
Kath enjoyed an hour in the Artesian spa and the high volume faucet provided a great shoulder massage.
Sheila has come down with a bad head cold so it was an extra day here to relax and recuperate before hitting Longreach, 28 kms west.
Sun, sunny and clear dry heat- and it is still officially winter!!